Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part One

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/23/24;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $47.99 UHD Steelbook;
Rated ‘PG’ for action/violence throughout and brief language.
Voices of Matt Bomer, Darren Criss, Stana Katic, Jensen Ackles, Meg Donnelly, Jimmi Simpson, Zachary Quinto, Jonathan Adams, Ike Amadi, Geoffrey Arend, Zack Callison, Alexandra Daddario, Matt Lanter, Aldis Hodge, Nolan North, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ashleigh LaThrop.

The first indication that this newest DC Universe animated adventure strays from the norm comes right off the bat, as Matt Bomer is the only credited cast member in the opening titles.

Bomer plays The Flash in this film and its precursors in the cycle of continuity that began with 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow, and thus has been dubbed the “Tomorrowverse.”

The opening chapter of what is being presented as a Crisis trilogy is the eighth movie in the Tomorrowverse, and adapts the famed 1985-86 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” comic book crossover published by DC in which pretty much all of its characters battled a universe-destroying force.

Though most of the voice cast from the earlier films also return for this team-up adventure, that Bomer’s is the only one credited up front really speaks to how much this first installment has been crafted as a story centered on The Flash, a character whose fate was also closely intertwined with the plot of the original comics.

The film begins with The Flash, aka Barry Allen, zipping back and forth through time to key moments in his life, from the lab accident that bestowed upon him the powers of super-speed, to forming the Justice League with his fellow heroes, to meeting and marrying Iris West (Ashleigh LaThrop). The reason for his time jumps is tied to an evil force that threatens the multiverse — a wave of anti-matter energy is destroying parallel realities, and The Flash is transported to one where Earth is ruled by evil versions of his superhero pals.

His inability to save that reality gives him greater insight into the bigger threat when he is summoned to a space station where heroes from across the multiverse are being gathered to combat the problem.

Their plan is to build towers on each Earth that will be connected to a central device where The Flash can use his super-speed to vibrate all the Earths fast enough so that the antimatter will pass through them without doing any damage.

While the film is unavoidably loaded with familiar superhero tropes, it keeps viewers guessing with some interesting plot twists that effectively ground the action as essentially a love story between Barry and Iris. In this regard it strays a bit from the source material in order to give The Flash an even more integral role in the plot. The flashbacks also revisit some key moments from the earlier films while answering a few dangling questions about how certain events actually unfolded.

What’s also nice about the structure of the film is that the filmmakers haven’t just made an ambitious four-hour epic split up by the studio into three chunks for distribution. The first Crisis film tells a complete and satisfying story on its own while also laying the groundwork for the direction of the next sequel.

The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs include two featurettes. The first is called “Crisis Prime(r),” a name that suggests it might be about the source material to help give viewers context as to the slew of new characters that arrive. However, the 10-minute video turns out to be just the filmmakers recapping the previous seven movies to point out how they were planned to lead into this one.

A discussion of the source material does occur in the eight-minute “Selfless Speedster,” which delves into how the filmmakers deconstructed the original comic storyline in order to put The Flash front and center in the first of the three “Crisis” movies.

Green Lantern: Beware My Power

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong violence, bloody images and partial nudity.
Voices of Aldis Hodge, Jimmi Simpson, Ike Amadi, Brian Bloom, Jamie Gray Hyder, Nolan North.

Set against the backdrop of an interstellar conflict, Beware My Power is an animated “Green Lantern” movie that puts the focus on the character of John Stewart, one of the first major black superheroes to appear in DC Comics.

The film begins with the mystery of what happened to Hal Jordan, the best-known Green Lantern of Earth. His power ring ends up going to Stewart (voiced by Aldis Hodge), a former Marine sniper.

Searching for answers, he ends up at the headquarters of the Justice League, where Hal’s buddy Green Arrow (Jimmi Simpson) starts showing him the basics of being a Green Lantern. They set off to try to learn what happened to Hal, a quest that puts them at the center of a war between the worlds of Thanagar and Rann.

Beware My Power gets off to a promising start, as Stewart is compelling as a new hero with big shoes to fill, and Green Arrow serving as the primary source of comic relief. However, the story gets very convoluted by the end as the writers start to cram in a number of references to major comic book storylines.

The Blu-ray includes a 31-minute featurette about the history of the John Stewart character, who is marking the 50th anniversary of his debut as one of the secondary Green Lanterns of Earth.

Also included is the “In Blackest Night” two-parter from the 2001 “Justice League” cartoon, where Stewart was presented as the primary Green Lantern.

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Lionsgate Acquires ‘Silk Road’ for U.S. Theatrical, Digital, VOD Release Feb. 19, Disc Release Feb. 23

Lionsgate has acquired the crime thriller Silk Road for U.S. theatrical, digital and VOD release Feb. 19 and Blu-ray and DVD release Feb. 23.

Written for the screen and directed by Tiller Russell, the film stars Jason Clarke, Nick Robinson, Alexandra Shipp, Jimmi Simpson, Katie Aselton, Lexi Rabe, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Daniel Stewart and Paul Walter Hauser.

Based on true events, Silk Road focuses on the young, affluent, and highly motivated entrepreneur Ross Ulbricht (Nick Robinson), whose ambitious goal is to launch the Internet’s first completely anonymous and unregulated marketplace. With Ulbricht’s passion for the possibilities his invention offers the world, his site — the Silk Road — becomes the world’s fastest-growing drug market, catching the focus of disgraced DEA agent Rick Bowden (Clarke). A dinosaur with a habit for substance abuse and blowing cases, Bowden once had street savvy in dark corners but is unprepared for the dark web as he struggles through tutorials on how to use the Internet. As both men’s private lives erode, with Bowden in over his head and Ross’s growing paranoia driving unthinkable choices, they cling to their jobs in an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse that have both men asking how far their idealism can take them.

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Silk Road is based on the Rolling Stone article “Dead End On Silk Road” by David Kushner. Years after the legal conclusion of the investigation, the Silk Road saga continues to make headlines, as it was recently reported that $1 billion in bitcoin connected to the site was recently moved for the first time in years — a signal that the criminals who operate in the darkest corners of the internet have not gone away.

Silk Road is a thrilling story with the kind of stranger-than-fiction details that can only come from a true story,” Lionsgate VP of acquisitions Lauren Bixby said in a statement. “This movie will keep audiences riveted by its cat and mouse game of a criminal mastermind being tracked by a hot-headed narc.”